"The Gates of Hell" in Holy Land?

When we spent holy week at the holy land last April, we did not know that we will encounter “The Gates of Hell”.  Sounds scary?

Going up the Gates of Hell
Well apparently this so called gate is found in the area of Cesaria Philippi.  Located at the foot of Mount Hermon, it was the religious center for worship of the Greek god, Pan.  The area was specially unique since it stood at the base of a cliff where spring water flowed. 

Stream flowing from the caves
The pagans during the time of Christ  believed that their fertility gods lived in the underworld during the winter and returned to earth when spring began. They considered water as a symbol of the underworld and believed that  their gods traveled to and from that world through the caves. 
In the open-air Pan Shrine, next to the cave mouth, there was a large cavity, in which a statue of Pan (a half-goat, half-human creature) stood, with a large erect phallus, worshipped for its fertility properties.
The Temple of Pan, The Gates of Hell
For the pagans, the cave and spring water at Caesarea Philippi created a gate to the underworld. They regarded  their city to be  literally at the gates of the underworld or the gates of hell. In order to draw the return of their god, Pan, each year, the residents of Caesarea Philippi engaged in appalling acts, including prostitution and bestial acts between humans and goats.  It was a city of people eagerly knocking on the doors of hell.
Why is this place signifant to Christians?  One day, Jesus brought his disciples to this place.  He then asked them:

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon  son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:13-18


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